The NCAA Needs to Admit its Mistake and Get Rid of the Saban Rule

Just A Minute takes a look at NCAA rule 13.1.7.4.1 Head Coach Restriction—Spring Evaluation Period, otherwise known as "The Saban Rule"
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Bryan Fisher from Athlon sports reported on Monday that as part of a NCAA recruiting review there have been discussions about eliminating the "Nick Saban rule" that has been on the books for more than a decade. 

It's the rule that bothers Nick Saban the most, and he's sure to get asked about it this week. 

Specifically, in 2008, the NCAA banned head football coaches from not only visiting recruits during the spring, but even evaluating them during practices.

13.1.7.4.1 Head Coach Restriction—Spring Evaluation Period. [FBS] In bowl subdivision football, during the April 15 through May 31 evaluation period, the head coach [and any assistant coach who has been publicly designated by the institution to become the next head coach (see Bylaw 13.1.2.6.1)] shall not engage in off-campus recruiting activities, participate in an off-campus coaching clinic, visit a prospective student-athlete’s educational institution for any reason or meet with a prospective student-athlete’s coach at an off-campus location.

The official reasoning at the time was to prevent "bump-ins" with recruits, even if it was just to say hello. 

The real reason for it was coaches didn't like that Saban was outworking them during the offseason. 

They wanted to do things like take days off, or go on vacation.

It didn't matter that coaches could use the first-hand evaluations to get a better feel for the players they were recruiting, how they practiced, interacted with teammates and handled instructions.

You know, a lot of the things NFL teams want to see first-hand before drafting players. 

To Saban, the rule not only restricted those who worked hard and were doing their due diligence in recruiting, but as he put it, it was like using a sledgehammer to hit a nail.

"I think it's ridiculous that we're doing what we're doing," Saban said in 2008. "When you're talking about developing relationships and knowing players and meeting guidance counselors and talking to principals and all those kind of things, I think we've put ourselves at a tremendous disadvantage in terms of evaluation.

"I think we've really limited ourselves by what we've done, and I totally disagree with it."

Did the rule slow Saban down? 

No. Alabama's won six national titles since it was enacted. 

Did it hurt the Crimson Tide's recruiting? 

Are you kidding?

The Division 1 Council is set to discus the issue next week.

Saban still hates the rule, but that's not the reason why it needs to go. 

It's simply a bad rule.